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Health Services


Shari Jorissen


The prevalence of autism in the United States is 1 in 68 children. African American children are less likely to receive advance testing to confirm the diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome (AS) compared to other ethnic groups. The purpose of this study was to determine if demographic factors (parental education level, family annual income, marital status of custodial parent(s), parent ethnicity, number of children in home, other children with disability, family location, mother age at time of birth, gender of child, birth status of child, adoption status and age, child order, and other disability) have any predictive relationship to AS diagnosis among African American children in the Washington Metropolitan area. A quantitative correlational study of a cross-sectional nature was conducted using a survey to collect data from parents of children age 3-16 (n= 187) who may or may not have a confirmed autism diagnosis. Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory provided an understanding of how environmental factors may be related to a diagnosis of AS. Chi-square analyses were conducted and statistically significant higher frequencies of diagnosis were found in parents with no other child with a disability, later born children, and parents who have been married. Logistic regressions analysis resulted in parental marital status being found to be a statistically significant predictor of a child having an official AS diagnosis. There is a critical need to train health care professionals working in underserved communities where minority groups may reside about AS. Results from this study may provide information to develop policies, community-based services, and programs that ensure that children can receive an accurate AS diagnosis regardless of factors such as race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.